$70K grant to Rotorua programme teaching life skills

Tuakiri Charitable Trust founder Chantelle Walker

Families lacking basic skills such as knowing how to cook, clean or budget will soon have somewhere to turn, thanks to a new programme brought to life following a $70,000 grant from the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust.

Nga Ara Pai, loosely translated as Positive Pathways, has been developed by the Tuakiri Charitable Trust to help families in the Rotorua community who are lacking basic life skills.

Tuakiri was developed in 2014 to care for young offenders, aged 12 to 17 years, in the custody of Oranga Tamariki. Looking after up to five young men at a time, the Kaupapa Care service specialises in the transition to independence care teaching the importance of boundaries, structure and other basics that are often taken for granted.

It was when they were transitioning the youth back into their homes that Tuakiri realised there was a gap in the community, trust founder Chantelle Walker said.

“Some of our boys come to us with no basic life skills whatsoever – simple things like showering daily, opening curtains, grocery shopping and greeting guests with a cuppa are new learnings for them,” she said.

“We take these boys in and nourish every aspect of their lives and encourage them to gain new skills and independence for when they graduate back into the local community.

“Our service has proved extremely vital at an already vulnerable time in the troubled youth’s lives and it is now time to extend our reach and help those within the wider community.”

The need for a wider programme addressing issues in homes became apparent when Tuakiri Trust began graduating youth back into their homes.

“We discovered some parts of the community were really lacking in, or struggling with, those basic life skills – so we formed Nga Ara Pai.”

Walker said Rotorua Trust was an obvious place to seek funding.

“When I first set up the Tuakiri Trust, Rotorua Trust was the very first organisation that stepped up and granted us $40,000. Without them, we would not be off the ground – we are very grateful for their continued support of our kaupapa.”

The latest grant from the Rotorua Trust allows the programme to employ two key workers to educate families with basic and practical skills such as meal planning, maintaining a home, cooking, cleaning, budgeting, routines, driving and how to better support their children who have returned home.

Rotorua Trust chairman Stewart Edward said the trust was proud to continue to support Tuakiri Trust.

“This kaupapa has demonstrated its worth, and we’re pleased to help it as it evolves to work with families in a more preventatives space.

“Walker has done a phenomenal job of changing the lives of young offenders and she’s now identified an area where there are gaps and she’s working to fill those.”

Edward said the trust’s overall aim was to create a better Rotorua for all and this was a real example of the way it could do that.

“This programme is an example of the wide-spread support needed, but we know by teaching these practical skills we won’t just be changing the lives of these whānau, but future generations.”

The programme is open to any family who feels they need support and can be accessed by direct liaison with Tuakiri Trust.